Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Movement patterns and athletic performance of leopards in the Okavango Delta

Hubel, T Y; Golabek, K A; Rafiq, K; Weldon McNutt, J; Wilson, A M


T Y Hubel

K A Golabek

K Rafiq

J Weldon McNutt

A M Wilson


Although leopards are the most widespread of all the big cats and are known for their adaptability, they are elusive and little is known in detail about their movement and hunting energetics. We used high-resolution GPS/IMU (inertial measurement unit) collars to record position, activity and the first high-speed movement data on four male leopards in the Okavango Delta, an area with high habitat diversity and habitat fragmentation. Leopards in this study were generally active and conducted more runs during the night, with peaks in activity and number of runs in the morning and evening twilight. Runs were generally short (less than 100 m) and relatively slow (maximum speed 5.3 m s−1, mean of individual medians) compared to other large predators. Average daily travel distance was 11 km and maximum daily travel distance was 29 km. No direct correlation was found between average daily temperature and travel distance or between season and travel distance. Total daily energy requirements based on locomotor cost and basal metabolic rate varied little between individuals and over time. This study provides novel insights into movement patterns and athletic performance of leopards through quantitative high-resolution measurement of the locomotor, energetic, spatial and temporal movement characteristics. The results are unbiased by methodological and observational limitations characteristic of previous studies and demonstrate the utility of applying new technologies to field studies of elusive nocturnal species.


Hubel, T. Y., Golabek, K. A., Rafiq, K., Weldon McNutt, J., & Wilson, A. M. (2018). Movement patterns and athletic performance of leopards in the Okavango Delta. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 285(4), 1017-1027.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 26, 2018
Publication Date Apr 25, 2018
Deposit Date May 10, 2018
Publicly Available Date May 11, 2018
Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Print ISSN 0962-8452
Publisher The Royal Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 285
Issue 4
Pages 1017-1027
Public URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations